“Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” is a new book by Washington Post authors Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta that depicts President Trump’s dysfunctional response to the developing pandemic, including such insider discussions.
In the book, they touch upon the battle doctors had with Trump and his illness with Coronavirus, and the fact that it was more serious than the White House admitted at the time.
The week before Trump tested positive, his week was busy and frantic.
He had a party with dozens of maskless visitors on Saturday, Sept. 26 to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
The infection had resurfaced at that point, but Trump’s political optics for facial coverings had become unofficial White House policy.
He even requested staff who were wearing them in his presence to remove them.
He made it plain that if someone was going to hold a press conference with him, they were not to wear a mask.
Trump had also hosted military families at the White House the day following the Supreme Court celebration.
Few people were wearing masks at Trump’s request, but they were crammed in a touch too tightly, and Trump got uncomfortable.
Kellyanne in her jammies sick with the #TrumpVirus that she brought home to her family
Claudia tapes mom saying “you cause so much disruption”.
— Luv 🧡Bidens ❤️Obamas (@J3nMar13) October 6, 2020
STORY CONTINUES BELOW...
Trump wasn’t concerned about others being ill, but about his own susceptibility and complained to his coworkers about it afterwards, not addressing the obvious confliction with his unmasked policy.
It was obvious that no matter how well advised, Trump did not understand how the virus spread.
Why were they letting people get so close to him? Meeting with the Gold Star families was sad and moving, he said, but added, “If these guys had Covid, I’m going to get it because they were all over me.” He told his staff that they needed to do a better job of protecting him.
— 🌊 R Saddler (@Politics_PR) October 5, 2020
He went to Cleveland two days later for the first presidential debate against his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
Trump was unpredictable throughout the evening, and his behavior seemed to worsen as the night progressed.
The assessments of the commentators were harsh.
Trump got gravely ill about 48 hours later. The president began a fast decline hours after tweeting that he and first lady Melania Trump had coronavirus illnesses.
Trump hoped the coronavirus would take out @AmbJohnBolton.
Trump also reportedly mocked people who became sick with COVID.
— Christopher Constantine, Esq. (@ChrisAlbertoLaw) June 24, 2021
His fever rose, and his blood oxygen level dropped below 94 percent, dropping into the 80s at one point.
The White House physician, Sean Conley, was present at the president’s bedside. Trump was given oxygen in an attempt to calm him down.
Right before Trump got ill, Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, received a call with an urgent request.
We already know that Trump, Azar, and Caputo conspired to spread COVID through the schools by lying about data.
The face that the WaPo *YET AGAIN* doesn't mention Caputo *having been a Kremlin employee* is maddening. https://t.co/0zPrTL5Exa
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) April 9, 2021
He was asked if he could assist someone in the White House in obtaining a monoclonal antibody, an experimental coronavirus treatment?
What would the White House have to do if Azar was able to obtain the drug? Azar paused for a while to consider his options.
The medication was still in clinical testing as of Oct. 1, 2020.
Because it was not yet accessible to the general public, and the Food and Drug Administration would have to create a “compassionate use” exception for it.
Exactly what you’d hope your god-king thought of your fate: “Testing is killing me! I’m going to lose the election because of testing!” Trump shouted at Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “What idiot had the federal government do testing?” https://t.co/rWhHUYIHId
— westvirginiaville (@wvville) June 21, 2021
Outside of those trials, just approximately ten people had utilized it. Azar stated that he would try to assist.
Then he found out it was for the President’s closest advisor, Hope Hicks. He knew it wasn’t long before he would hear that Trump was infected.
Azar wasn’t told who the drug was for but would later connect the dots. The patient was one of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers: Hope Hicks. https://t.co/1IfEiWcfET
— kirk (@sankalots) June 24, 2021
Then FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn got a request from a top White House official as well, this time with even more urgency.
Could he persuade the FDA to approve a compassionate-use license for a monoclonal antibody immediately away?
Doctors utilize a regular process to apply to the FDA for unapproved medications on behalf of patients with life-threatening illnesses who have exhausted all other alternatives, and scientists at the agency examine the applications.
’Nightmare Scenario’ fresh details on chaos, conflicts inside Trump’s pandemic response –
— Outspoken (@Out5p0ken) June 21, 2021
Hahn was told that the White House expected a response within hours.
Hahn sought advice from career officials since he still didn’t know who the application was for.
Officials urged that the FDA follow the rules. The communication was transmitted to the White House by Hahn.
They persisted in pressuring him to find ways to dodge the normal paperwork and process.
Hahn repeatedly told them, “No, we can’t do that.” We’re discussing a person’s life. We need to look through the application to make sure we’re doing it correctly.
Alex Azar lied to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and and requested a "compassionate-use authorization for a monoclonal antibody," saying it was for a top White House official.
Ironically, the "compassionate" exception for the antibody was really for Trump. https://t.co/W86Y1Y1atG
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) June 24, 2021
Finally, someone broke the secret and told him who it was for. Hahn was taken aback when he heard the effort was on behalf of the president. He thought to himself, “For God’s sake, it’s the president who’s sick, and you want us to bend the rules?”
Trump was in the highest-risk category for developing serious illness from covid-19, since he rarely exercised and was medically obese at the age of 74.
He was the kind of patient with whom you’d want to take every care imaginable.
The FDA reached a decision within 24 hours, as it does with other compassionate-use petitions.
Officials at the CDC rushed to find out which monoclonal antibody from which business would be the most appropriate given the clinical data they possessed, and chose Regeneron, known simply as Regen-Cov.
From that moment White House officials launched an unprecedented attempt to procure Trump lifesaving medications.
According to this report, Trump nearly died, was saved by a rare, experimental drug that pretty much nobody else got access to, and rather than being humbled, he doubled-down on a reckless approach that continued to cause hundreds of thousands to die. https://t.co/iXFFEtbxMr
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) June 24, 2021
Through an intravenous line, the physicians administered an eight-gram dosage of two monoclonal antibodies to Trump. He was also given a first dose of remdesivir, an antiviral medication, through IV.
Trump’s medical team put all they had at the illness at the same time. As the day progressed, his health looked to improve slightly, but his physicians opted to admit him to the hospital, fearful that he might need to be put on a ventilator.
Staying in the White House at that moment was too dangerous.
He almost died as suspected. Instead of having an epiphany about Covid, he cont. to allow the virus to spin out of control. As he went for this photo op, it was clear "that he hadn’t changed at all. The pandemic response wasn’t going to change, either."https://t.co/V6hF93ePZo
— Julie Kay 🎶 (@JulieKay0914) June 24, 2021
His illness was maintained a secret from many White House officials and even his closest advisers, but the secret leaked out, and as word spread, everyone lined up to be tested.
A huge number of people had met with him the week before to brief him on various subjects or had gone to the debate with him.
One aide saw Conley run out of his office with a frightened face as she waited in line for a coronavirus test. That was odd, the assistant observed.
every time I get close to calming down about trump's life being saved when he almost died from Covid, another despicable story about him or his family pops up… they are an endless abyss of billowing EVIL…
— Dan Skinner (@DanSkinnerArt) June 24, 2021
Officials were notified an hour or two later that Pence would be expected to step in for Trump on an event.
Trump’s health deteriorated the next morning. When his blood oxygen level plummeted to 93%, he was given the strong steroid dexamethasone, which is normally given to those who are very sick (the normal blood oxygen level is between 95 and 100 percent).
By this time, the president was taking a bewildering assortment of emergency medications – all at the same time.
You know what surprised about this article? Not that Trump almost died, but that all these experienced & well-educated folks—Brix, Redfield, etc—thought that Trump, a megalomaniac with deep psychological issues, would emerge a changed man after his illness https://t.co/lqD0IfB4iR
— Tahar (@laseptiemewilay) June 24, 2021
The White House was so taken off guard by Trump’s sickness and the possibility of death that they had not even informed Vice President Mike Pence’s team on a plan to swear him in if Trump became disabled.
Trump had refused to go to the hospital, but his advisers had laid out the options: he could go when he could still walk on his own, or he could wait until later, when he would be captured on a wheelchair or gurney by the cameras. Then he wouldn’t be able to hide his condition.
At least two people informed on Trump’s physical condition that weekend claimed he was severely unwell and didn’t think he’d make it out of Walter Reed Hospital.
Believe it. even the Washington post mention that Trump almost died and was saved in extremis using monoclonal antibody. https://t.co/eQPhh5l8fF
— Stephen Therry 💉 (@StandingLeaf) June 24, 2021
Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, was reported to be obsessed with anxiety that Trump might die, according to people close to him.
Trump’s condition began to improve a few hours later. One person acquainted with Trump’s medical records believes monoclonal antibodies were to blame for the president’s speedy recovery.
Against medical advise, Trump insisted on leaving the hospital. Medical staff reasoned that his flood of steroids had given him a false sense of energy.
Your lord and savior Jesus Trump almost died from COVID and then got the vaccine with no serious side effects.
— WeAreChange (@WeAreChange_0) June 19, 2021
Aides hoped and prayed that the White House would now take this virus seriously. Most White House officials felt that they had a limited time to persuade people to behave differently if they were going to avoid a massive wave of death.
For months, the president had mocked and avoided the illness, defying safety rules by hosting large rallies and overcrowding the White House with visitors who were not wearing masks.
However, only one month before the election, the virus that had already claimed the lives of almost 200,000 Americans had infected the world’s most powerful person.
was saved by a rare, experimental drug that pretty much nobody else got access to,
rather than being humbled, he doubled-down on a reckless approach
continued to cause hundreds of thousands to die @DearAuntCrabby https://t.co/yQGXzStOCp
— Anthony Saldanha🇨🇦 (@AnthSald) June 24, 2021
Trump and his advisors had disregarded multiple warnings from task force doctors that their reckless behavior was endangering themselves and everyone in the West Wing.
The White House had become increasingly reckless as a result of the frequent escapes, continually courting death.
After each White House incident, Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, and Redfield wrote to top staffers, warning them that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was not safe, and expressed her dissatisfaction to Pence directly. She warned him that this was risky.
Trump is the most acute narcissist on planet earth and narcissists cannot be changed, not even by near death experiences.
Trump turned the White House into a coronavirus petting zoo over something as silly as a mask and almost died because of it.
— Nunca Trumpismo (@NeverTrumpTexan) June 24, 2021
Trump’s doctors expressed hoped that his struggle with the coronavirus, which was considerably more dangerous than previously recognized, would encourage him to treat the virus seriously.
It was the last chance, according to some experts, to change the response from the White House, and the failure to do so would fail the nation.
More than 209,000 Americans have died of the virus. Tens of thousands of others have been made seriously ill. Trump has needed oxygen and an experimental medication. And nobody else or almost nobody else can get the kind of care he received. pic.twitter.com/Vrqx6LKiAE
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 5, 2020
Instead, Trump emerged from his hospital bed, too early, perhaps more belligerent as a result of his ordeal.
With a heavy cover of makeup, he faced the cameras, pulled off his mask, even though he was still infected and testing positive, and faced everyone around him with without regard, basking in a false personal triumph.
It was at that point the White House aides knew that any chance they had to get Trump to change the direction of the White House response was gone.